Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Demonic Deception? Or What You Get When We Play God?

I've run into the phrase, "Dawn of Demonic Deception," on Twitter. It's a reference to a recent article, elsewhere:The article may, I think, be a useful reality check for folks who haven't stayed current with medical science and biology for the last forty of fifty years. Which, apparently, is a non-trivial percentage of the American population.

"Demonic Deception" focuses on a standard-issue establishment article in a major newspaper, which celebrates five decades of 'the pill.' Actually, America has come a long way since the start of the sexual revolution. Before the pill, we only had five known sexually transmitted diseases. Now, we've got over two dozen. On the principle of 'more is better,' that's real progress. And, another topic.

"Demonic Deception:" Maybe

I won't argue the idea that the alternatively-sane approach to reality that's been fashionable for most of my life is, at its root, demonic. And I certainly wouldn't argue that "Lucifer" made a really imprudent career move, when he decided to defy God.

It's easy to see this sort of thing as direct demonic interference in our society:
  • Today's willful blindness to facts which don't support politically correct viewpoints
  • The idea that people who don't measure up to arbitrary standards should be killed
On the other hand, I think a case could be made that this is what we get, when the self-described best and brightest decide:
  • God doesn't exist
    • Even if He does, His opinions don't count

Wouldn't it be Nice if People were Nice?

I'm not entirely unsympathetic with the 'God is dead' (or 'not relevant') point of view. I think it stems from the difficulty in reconciling nice ideas, like people being born perfect and then ruined by society, with several thousand years of recorded sins. (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 386) Notions like 'noble savage' and 'victim of society' seem to have played out - but the idea that people really are just fine on their own doesn't die easily.

I don't think 'the natural man,' unencumbered by the trammeling inhibitions of a stultifying society, is all good. But I don't think human beings are all bad, either. We're made by God. This may sound corny, but:
" 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.'218 Man occupies a unique place in creation: (I) he is 'in the image of God'; (II) in his own nature he unites the spiritual and material worlds; (III) he is created 'male and female'; (IV) God established him in his friendship."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, (355)
The idea of original sin is not that humanity, in its very origins and by its nature is sinful. It's more of an acknowledgment that we started out good, and in friendship with God.

And blew it. Big time. (Catechism, 374-379)

We've been living with the consequences of that first disobedience ever since.

Firing God and Taking Over: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Being 'sympathetic' with someone doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with the person.

I don't agree with the fashionably secular worldview. At all.

I don't think my pagan ancestors were right, either: but at least when they were sacrificing people to Odin, they were acknowledging an order of existence other than - and superior to - our own. It was a start.

Natural Law

Which gets me into things like natural law. (Catechism, 1954-1960) Never heard of natural law? I'm not surprised: particularly if you've grown up in America and gone to the government schools. (Oh, great, yet another topic.)

"Man participates in the wisdom and goodness of the Creator who gives him mastery over his acts and the ability to govern himself with a view to the true and the good. The natural law expresses the original moral sense which enables man to discern by reason the good and the evil, the truth and the lie:
The natural law is written and engraved in the soul of each and every man, because it is human reason ordaining him to do good and forbidding him to sin . . . But this command of human reason would not have the force of law if it were not the voice and interpreter of a higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be submitted.5"
(Catechism, 1954)
The way I see it, natural law is as much a part of creation as the regularities we study in physics and chemistry. We're free to ignore natural law - we've got free will. But there will be consequences.

When physics are concerned, the consequences tend to come rather quickly. Like not believing in gravity, and stepping off a roof. In principle, a person could keep on not believing in gravity right down to the point of impact. Then, there'd be noticeable consequences. And, if the roof was high enough, something of a mess for someone else to clean up.

Consequences of defying natural law tend, I think, to come a bit more slowly. That's why murderers sometimes 'get away with' their crimes for days. Weeks. Months. Years or decades, sometimes. Sometimes, I think, the murderer escapes most of the logical consequences of killing another person for personal reasons until he or she dies. Then divine law kicks in - and that is yet again another topic.

Often, though, the murderer is discovered - and then is lynched, stabbed, drowned, jailed, or otherwise dealt with, according to local custom.

God and His Laws: What a Bummer!

I've got a pretty strong ego. Just ask my family. One of the reasons I enjoyed role playing games is that, when I was a game-master, I could 'play God' on a very limited scale.

One time, I temporarily misplaced an entire barony.

My lack of omniscience and omnipotence - even in a restricted little sub-creation - didn't surprise me at all. I'd long before realized that God is God, and I'm not. Not even close.

"In the Image of God" isn't "God"

Particularly, I think, since we are made "in the image of God," it can be galling to realize that we are not God. We don't know everything. And, although we have a clear mastery over creation - our power is not without limits.

Remember the Mount St. Helens eruption? Eventually, we may be able to contain - or safely control - a release of energy of that kind, on that scale. But on a cosmic, or even geologic, scale - that blast was small change. (Good grief! I've got to stop introducing new topics.)

Given the sort of extreme individualism that's been all the rage lately - admitting that we can't do anything we want to, without consequences, doesn't feel all that groovy. Or even cool.

As some folks said, not all that long ago: 'Bummer!'

Natural Law and Surviving a Century

This will sound blunt: but it takes two humans to last more than about 125 years, tops. As individuals, we're still doing well to last a century. As families - we don't know the limit, yet. Our records only go back a few thousand years - and genealogical information tends to get lost in the major cultural shifts that occur from time to time.

Contemporary genetic studies, though, suggest that our ancestors go back - a long time. A really, really, long time. A lot longer than Bishop Ussher liked. The last I heard, the "mitochondrial Eve" lived about 200,000 years ago. Looks like we're all descended from her. Since folks were using kitchens over a million years ago, though, I suspect that our ancestors go back - well, more than 200,000 years. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (December 21, 2009)

Notice, I started talking about "families," and ended with "ancestors." It's a little more than "tomato, tomahto," but I don't want another digression.

Bottom line? Each of us comes from a sequence of parents and children that goes back somewhere between 200,000 and 1,000,000-plus years. If someone has children, that person has a shot at having descendants 200,000 years from now. Or 1,000,000-plus years from now, for that matter. And no, I don't think that 'we're all gonna die' of the coming ice age, global warming, or another Republican (or Democrat) in the White House.

But you're not gonna have descendants if you kill all your children!

Most pagan cultures seemed to recognize that. Sure, infant sacrifice and exposure were practiced: but you'll notice that the pagans were careful to leave at least some survivors among their children. Other people's children? Well that's still another topic. (Exodus 1:15-16)

'De Debbil Made Me Do It?'

Like I said, I think Satan is a angel who made a really bad career move. And, although it's pretty obvious that Satan encourages us to follow his appalling example: We've got free will, and are able to make decisions on our own. For good or ill.

I also think that it's a really, really bad idea for any self-aware creature to make a serious attempt at going into the "god" business. Homo Sapiens Sapiens is pretty hot stuff: but we're simply not qualified to take God's job.

Besides, He's a bit touchy about that sort of thing.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:
A tip of the hat to AncientSoul, on Twitter, for the heads-up on that phrase.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.